Posted in Christianity, Death&Dying, Family, Husbands, Marriage, People, Relationships, Uncategorized, widow, Wives, Women

My Grief Journey—45 Days In

What does 45 days of being a widow look like? At the same time that everything has changed, so much is the same. The very next day after my husband passed, I had to get up to take my son to school. Crazy, right? Well, it made perfect sense to me at the time. It was semester finals, only 2 hours over 3 days, and then he’d be out for the two week Christmas break. The first day and week was spent with phone calls from family, friends, expressing condolences and investigators from the fire department and insurance company asking me the same questions over and over again. That was annoying but obviously necessary. I was glad when it came to an end.

Thanks to all those phone calls and the pressing need to shop for all of the necessities we’d lost, the days were busy but not long enough. It was the early morning hours and late nights when my grief wouldn’t let me avoid her. It was then I had no choice but to acknowledge that Kevin was gone. Now that I’m in my temporary rental home, away from the full home of my sister and her family, thus having more time to myself, those moments are more frequent yet sporadic. I’ll been browsing the cable guide and become sad, my eyes are filling with tears as I see the programs that he enjoyed—namely MSNBC and Supernatural, and Young & the Restless. He was a All My Children guy until I decided started back watching Y&R a couple years ago. Then in true Kevin fashion, it took over. I’d just get the highlights from him. Now I watch hearing his commentary in my head.

My news junkie is gone. Now I have to force myself to watch more news since I don’t fall asleep and awake to MSNBC.

The first couple of trips to the grocery store were tear jerkers. Whether at his favorite spot, Meijer, or mine, Kroger, all I can think about is stuff I don’t have to buy or think about cooking because based on his needs and wants. Will I ever buy tuna again or Crystal Light packets?

It hasn’t been all sadness over these first 30 days. The journey of mourning the loss of a loved has also included joyful laughs and some guilt along the way. The week he passed I went bowling with my daughter, her boyfriend, and my son. I felt ashamed and guilty for having fun, though I could hear Kevin saying, “You better live Char! You know I’m just chilling up here with the Lord and my boy Job.” That same day, we ate dinner at me and Kevin’s anniversary spot, Cheesecake Factory, ironically, seared at the same table as Kevin and I did on our last visit. Rather than request to be moved, I recalled fondly our time there on our 5th anniversary last March. On the flip side, the kids and I have shared genuine laughs recalling our favorite “Kevin” moments and sayings. One of mine is, “You don’t think fat meat is greasy.” My son’s should be, “Going to see a man about a dog,” Kevin’s reply whenever Nate asked where he was going.

As I prepare for the rebuilding of our home I feel guilty for looking forward to having virtually a new home. When the word “widow” fills my mind, I feel stuck in quicksand, unable to move. Kevin thought telling me frequently about his imminent death that he could prepare me for this time.

Nope, epic fail.

It’s just one day at a time kind of thing. But each of those is filled with missing various aspects of him….us.

This is my grief journey.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

(C)2018 LaCharmine (L.A.) Jefferson

Posted in Christianity, Faith, Inspiration

Spiritually Speaking–No Title Necessary

I almost didn’t make it to church today. It was my plan to attend service and assist the Trustees, the ministry I serve on, with our first dinner sale of the year. I was up early enough to bake the last pan of chicken that I was making for the dinners. Then I decided to do some Yoga. Before I started the video on demand I decided to take an anti-anxiety medication recently prescribed by my doctor. I’d noticed the last couple of days my mind was all over the place preventing me from going to sleep. However, before I made it to the second Yoga position in the video, I could hardly hold myself while on my hands and knees. I didn’t get it. One minute I was fine, the next I felt like I was going to throw up or fall out. When I went back into my bedroom, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. I’d taken a strong sleep-aid medication!

Barely able to sit up straight on my Yoga mat, there was no way I could drive to church or stay awake long enough watch the chicken in the oven. I called my daughter, explained everything and she, of course, agreed to step in and take the chicken to the church. I was disappointed but safety first. After setting the timer on the stove and my phone for extra coverage, I laid down on the couch, falling in and out of sleep until the both the timers sounded.

By the time my daughter arrived home, I was up and drinking a cup of coffee. She was more than relieved when I told her that I was good to go. She didn’t need to make the church run for me. Win-win.

I made it to church in time to assist my ministry team with setting everything up and participate in communion, our first Sunday of the month tradition. On the way to the sanctuary, a young man walked through the doors of the fellowship hall. He was grumbling, clearly upset. With earphones around his ears I figured he was talking on the phone but his conversation was disturbing.

“I can’t stand these church people. They’re so fake. They always have something to say.”  He was fighting back tears. The other trustee and myself couldn’t help but stop and try to determine if he was talking to us or someone else, or if he needed help. When the other trustee probed, the young man pretty much repeated himself. She told him to come on back in the church. As the three of us got closer to the door he said something like every time he tries to get closer to God that these people always talking stuff to him, being hypocrites.

Considering this church has been my church home since I was a teenager. I wanted to know who had said something to offend this young man, and what, but this was not a time for nosey inquiries.  Instead of asking questions, I found my voice to speak the truth that was swirling around in my head as he was complaining.

“Honey,” I said like he was my son. “Every time you move closer to God, trying to live the way God wants you to, this is exactly what satan does. He uses, most times those closest to you or those who you’d least expect, to push all of your buttons and run you in the opposite direction of God. When that happens, just ask God to help and bless the offending person and go on about your day.” The young man appeared to feel some relief. He thanked me, then opened the door for myself and the other trustee–like a perfect gentleman–and the three of us made our way into the sanctuary.

Over the years there have been plenty of situations when I’ve been in the company of people expressing challenging life situations. But unlike today I remained silent not feeling it was my place to say anything. However, as a Christian, speaking up, is exactly what we are called to do. Notice I didn’t say as a Minister, Evangelist, or Deacon. Titles have nothing to do with spreading the word of God.

Believe me, I understand the fear and apprehension of speaking up in those situations. You’re likely to think that you don’t know enough, that your understanding is not deep enough, you don’t know the book, chapter, or verse of scripture of any verse to reference what you want to say. That’s how I was and still am more often that I care to admit.

What’s changed, though, is my desire for God to use me in the way He desires to. In recent years, I’ve been praying for understanding of His word and asking Him to use me to be a blessing to others as He sees fit. That’s a good place to start.

I didn’t wake up this morning planning to encourage anyone in the Lord. In hindsight, though, I have to wonder if my mistakenly taking that sleeping-aid medication was a plan of satan to keep me home, thus preventing me from encountering that young man today. Well…not today devil.

Let the church say Amen!

Naturally Your,

L.A.

Posted in Caregivers, Caregiving, Encouragement, Family, Health, Inspiration, Lifestyle, People, Relationships, Travel, Women

No Time Like the Present

My longtime girlfriend has been living in Dallas, TX for at least 7 years. She relocated there after accepting a promotion with the company she’d been working for in our hometown.  Once down there, she met her current husband and they’ve since started a family. Dallas is clearly her home now. As most of her family is here in Michigan, she comes to visit once or twice a year. However, her time is usually consumed with family so I never get to spend much time with her.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to go visit her. Actually…I do.

Before I started visiting my husband on weekends he was out of town for work or attending a conference for my sorority, I was not really into traveling. The only trips that I took my children on was 5 hrs away to Chicago and across the bridge to Canada to enjoy an indoor waterpark. Traveling was not something I fit into my vacation or financial planning.

This past summer a friend invited my son to go on a trip to Disney World with her family. I didn’t want him to miss out on the opportunity but I was hesitant. First, he’d never been on a plane before. Second, he expressed fear about getting on a plane. So I decided that his first flight needed to be with me. Around this same time, I was on the brink of caregiver burnout and didn’t see a way to give myself a real break.

Lo and behold, the company I work for hosts an annual conference in Dallas that I always say that I’d like to attend. Why hadn’t? There was no good reason. So this year I took the opportunity to kill three birds with one stone: attend the conference, visit my friend, and take my son on his first flight.

Everything was awesome. That Dallas September heat was no joke but it was so good to be away from home. To be a guest in my friend’s home. To wake up on Saturday morning and not have to think about what I was going to cook for breakfast for myself or anyone else! My friend and her husband took good care of us.

img_1579
My son in the co-pilot seat

 

img_1566
A round of miniature golf in the hot Dallas son with my friend’s family
img_1559
Go-Kart racing
img_1551
Partial group family pic…my friend’s husband was MIA
img_1518
Taking a break from the conf. Enjoying a book in the pool
img_1517
My son getting his swim on
img_1524
Mom & Son chilling at the pool

The question that repeated through my head was, “Why’d it take you so long to do this?”

I have another girlfriend who’s been living in Atlanta for the last 7 yrs. Besides going down for her wedding five years ago, I haven’t been there for a real visit. After I visit family in Tennessee next year, Atlanta will be my next stop.

It’s funny how, in theory, we know that tomorrow is not promised. Still, we tend to live our lives like we have all the time in the world. My husband’s diagnosis with a life-threatening illness changed my perspective. Although  supporting him through this illness doesn’t allow me to a lot of time to do as much as I’d like, I still make a point to do as much as I can.

Is there anything you’re putting off for tomorrow that you need to be doing today? Share in the comments  below.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

 

Posted in Encouragement, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Women

My First Day of School

back to schoolAm I really doing this? I thought on the 5 minute drive from my job to the campus of Wayne State University. While I know students of all ages attend the multi- cultural institution located in the heart of Detroit, all I could see were the people who looked young enough to be my children.

Here I am, weeks away from my 42nd birthday, attending my first upper level undergraduate English course. But it’s been a long time in the making. Approximately 10 years.

For the last several years I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Wayne State University and Oakland University’s graduate English programs. And, if I’m honest, their Journalism and Communication programs, too. Indecisiveness played a big part as to why it’s taken me so long to make this move. But fear was the biggest obstacle.

Why do I want to do this? What benefit will I gain? Will my life improve? What am I going to do with it? Do I have time for this?

These questions and more had me like a mouse stuck on the spinning wheel. Like that piece of cheese the mouse is chasing, this desire has remained dangling in front of my eyes, within arms reach. It was just a matter of reaching for it and grabbing it.

At this stage of the game I’m not sure if I’m going to pursue another graduate degree. I already have one of those…an MBA. According to my aunt, Dr. Wilson, “In education, you keep moving forward.” I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a simmering desire to earn such a distinguished level of education.

Before I can seriously entertain a doctorate in English, I need to get some upper level English courses on my record and recommendations from recent academic sources, hence, my Intro to Rhetoric & Writing class this fall semester.

I can’t tell you how excited I am. An item crossed off my 2017 goals. We’re only on the second week of class and I’ve already plotted out classes for 2018.

When I was introduced to the character of Jalessa, the oldest student–a recently divorced, mother ( I think)–on campus from A Different World, it never crossed my mind that that could be me. In retrospect, that was clearly a major  purpose of her character, to show that although life circumstances can knock us of course, we can always make our way back.

Not a do over, I like to say, but a do now. There’s no time like today to pursue a dream.

What dream are you chasing? Share in the comments below. If you can read this post, there’s no time like now to take that first step.

Til Next Time,

L.A.

P.S. Like this blog? Subscribe, reblog, and/or share.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Lifestyle, writing

Nervous Anxiety–What To Do With It

Nervous anxiety. We all encounter it at various points in our lives, some more often than others. Just depends on the individual. Common instances where a person is likely to experience this anxiety are at monumental times of life such as a guy preparing to propose to his girlfriend, a college student preparing to walk across the stage in front of a thousand pair of eyes, or a woman the morning  of or night before her wedding.

Over the last few days I’ve been experiencing some nervous anxiety. I actually have two important moments occurring in the same week. Within a few days, I’ll be unveiling my second work of fiction to the watching world–or whoever tunes in over a FB live broadcast. At least, that’s the plan. Just the anticipation of doing it gives me the jitters. But this option was the next best thing to investing money in a venue, paying a food vendor, and any other expense for an on-site party while I’m also in the mist of purchasing a house.

Oh yeah…that’s the other thing at the root of my recent anxiety. I’m buying a house! For the second time in my life and the first time with my husband of five years. We’ve been living in an apartment for the last five years and been looking for a house for the last 2 1/2. It’s been quite a journey but we made it to the end.

No one can tell that I’m nervous. It doesn’t show on the outside. These pesky little jitters reveal themselves in the form of awakening me hours before schedule. Three nights ago, I awoke at 3 am. The next day 4, and the next 6. Of course, I was still sleepy but wasn’t able to go back to sleep without a threat of oversleeping for work.  So instead of the laying in the bed allowing my mind to focus on either of these things, I redirected the nervous energy to more productive activity. One day I used the time to finish writing a story I’m submitting for publication. The other two days I went to the gym. Today when I woke up around the same time, I opted to relax and stay in bed. Enjoyed an early morning up cup of coffee.

What do you do when nervous anxiety awakes you in the wee hours of the morning or keep you up late into the night. Share in the comments below.

Til Next Time,

LA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That brings me tfood to feed guests Plus there was no time to do all of that Another morning of waking up hours before my alarm rang. Three nights ago it was 3 am, the next 4 am, and the next 6 am. I made the most of them all. One morning I spent the time finishing a story I needed to get to my editor so I can submit for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. The other two I hit the gym. I couldn’t think of any better ways to expend this nervous anxiety I’m experiencing.

Why am I nervous? What am I so anxious about?

Hmm…let’s see. I’m officially releasing my second novel this week. In conjunction with the book release, I’m unveiling my newly designed website.

Posted in Family, Lifestyle

Hello August

I haven’t been this excited to flip a page on my calendar as I was today. Yes! August has arrived. Nope, it’s not my birthday month. Nor I am that ready for my son to go back to school–yes, poor baby starts before September. Lord knows the school year will bring about even more activities that I’ll have to participate in. But this past month of July had me on what felt like a runaway train.

train.png

My summer was supposed to be easy breezy. A few months back I pushed a project management certification course from the February class to the June class because the school year was in full swing and I wouldn’t have the time to focus on the material. With my son out of school in early June, I was confident that summer would be the best time for me. The time for class was working out fine. Mondays and Wednesdays, 6-8pm. An our with a mentor during the work day one day a week. I was managing everything fine, even  carving out some time for studying a few days outside of class time. And then July came.

Though I’d been looking for house off and on over the last 2 years, I didn’t know just how stressful that could be until I started getting closer to what I wanted and more anxious about moving. It didn’t help that summer is peak time for home buyers. Before I knew it Mondays and Wednesdays I was rushing home to get to my computer to join the class session and on Tuesdays and Thursdays rushing to meet my real estate agent at a house of interest.

Then came the offers. After the accepted offers came the home inspections. When one home didn’t work out, I was back on the merry-go-round with another house. I did this with three homes before God led me to the right one. Glad to say that I’m in the closing process now and hope to be moving in September.

In the midst of class and home buying shenanigans, there were three doctor appointments for my husband, an hour drive after work to and from family night at my son’s summer camp, a girls’ night out bus trip to see the movie Girl’s Trip and another girl’s night out to enjoy a summer concert on the Detroit Riverfront. Add a little business to the mix, I met with my web designer one Saturday afternoon and did a long-overdo photo shoot for my website on another Saturday.

All in all, the busyness of July was not in vain. It was fun hanging with the girls and satisfying moving towards a couple of my business goals but, nonetheless, busy and overwhelming. By  the end of the month, I was mixing days up, thinking that the fourth Sunday was the third and the fifth Sunday was the first. Mix-ups like those are a clear indication that I was overloaded

Whelp…today, August 1st, a fresh start. Of course, there are already a few things on my calendar–family photo shoot, my own doctor appointment, my son’s school orientation, family camp for my son’s boy scout troop. Oh shoot, school shopping time, too. Okay…seems like a lot, already, huh? Still, it’s gonna be less hectic than last month…I hope 🙂

How’s your summer progressing? Have you been running yourself half crazy like me?

 

Posted in Hair, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Natural Hair

2013 Hair Reflections

First, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Yeah, I got a little sidetracked from my posting but it’s good to be back.

Nevertheless, 2013 was quite a hair whirlwind. First, June 2013 commemorated one year of living loc free! Yes! I made it a complete year. Believe me there some tough times when I was seconds away from placing an emergency call to a loctician. 🎶Look at me now…🎶Look at me now.

Flat Ironed Hair
Flat Ironed Hair
Hair with curls
Hair with curls
Flat Twist Out
Flat Twist Out
Bun on Straightened Hair
Bun on Straightened Hair

Adjusting to life without locs was no small feat. Washing, cowashing, moisturizing, styling, protective styling–whew! It was a never ending process. By the onset of fall, I was about ready to pull out every strand of thick, kinky, shrinking hair!

Rather than going to those extremes, I opted to take the less stressful, time consuming road of straightening my hair more often than not.

And I gotta be honest… I feel so much better! My days aren’t spent pondering what my next hair fix will be. Lol.

But don’t fret. I’m still all about that natural life. My natural just needs a blow dryer and pressing comb sometimes 😉

Stay tuned for what this year will bring.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.